Rheumatoid Arthritis


Everyone experiences rheumatoid arthritis differently, so it may take time before your doctor finds the best combination of medication to suit your needs. Some of the different medicines that you may be prescribed are outlined below.

Analgesics, more commonly known as painkillers, reduce pain rather than inflammation. The most commonly prescribed painkiller is paracetamol. Codeine is another analgesic, which is sometimes prescribed as a combined medicine with paracetamol (known as co-codamol).

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs):
There are many different types of NSAIDs. Some of the most commonly used include ibuprofen and aspirin. Other types include diclofenac, fenoprofen and flurbiprofen. NSAIDs help to relieve pain and stiffness while also reducing inflammation. However, they will not slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. When taken in high doses or over a long period of time, NSAIDs can cause complications, such as disgestive problems, stomach bleeding, kidney and liver damage, tinnitus (ringing in your ears) and high blood pressure.
Cox-2 selective inhibitors are a type of NSAID that are designed to be less harmful to the stomach. However, research has linked use of Cox-2 inhibitors to an increased risk of strokes, raised blood pressure, heart disease and heart attacks, so it is important to tell your GP if you have a history of high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or if you smoke.

Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs): DMARDs are a type of medicine that help to ease symptoms and slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. The earlier you start taking a DMARD, the more effective it will be. When antibodies attack the tissue in the joints, they produce chemicals that can cause further damage to the bones, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. DMARDS work by blocking the effects of these chemicals.

It can take four to six months before you start to notice a DMARD working. It's therefore important for you to keeping taking the medication, even if you do not notice it working at first. You may have to try two or three types of DMARD before finding the one that is most suitable for you. Once you and your doctor work out the most suitable DMARD, you will usually have to take the medicine indefinitely. Some of the most commonly prescribed DMARDs include sulfasalazine, methotrexate, gold injections and penicillamine.




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